Australian IT companies or multinationals are increasingly considering opportunities across the Tasman, thanks to a company which offers to act as their channel or virtual country manager.
Auckland-based Voltage promises local marketing and representation services for international and Australian IT companies looking to set up in New Zealand.
Founder David Tse, who was formerly Asia-Pacific general manager for Logical, a global network integrator and professional services company, said Voltage offered dedicated marketing and lead generation, plus partner and channel establishment.
Tse likened his 18 month-old company to the Australian Channel Managers company, which performed similar services for overseas organisations wanting to maintain or establish a presence here.
“We first determine if a channel structure is the best approach for our clients,” he said. “Sometimes we appoint a distributor and reseller[s].
Sometimes they manage the distribution themselves and sometimes we may initially take on the role as reseller or distributor ourselves.
“Generally, we start by looking at our clients’ offering — strengths, benefits, positioning and so on. We then consider best market fit for their technology [particular size of customer, particular vertical focus]. Once we have researched these, we can determine what channel structure is best for them — both the type and number of partners.
“Which channel partners [we choose] depends on whether their products are more strongly aligned to a specific vertical [a specific industry such as health, education] or horizontal [technologically-aligned such as network integration, systems integration]. Sometimes it’s a mix of both.”
Voltage’s services range from providing ad-hoc market research and partner introduction services to acting as a client’s virtual country office.
Current Voltage customers include applications traffic management company, Expand Networks, which led the US multinational to begin operations in New Zealand after initially setting up in Sydney. Auckland-based telecommunications expense and activity management company, Zici, was similarly brought over to Australia.
Tse said it was difficult to get UK and US companies interested in New Zealand unless they hit the Australian market first. Once they were operating here, a move into New Zealand was a small step.
However, Tse warned that unless a multinational had a local NZ presence, the small size and remoteness of the Kiwi market could leave large vendors with burnt fingers.
Organisations needed local representation with people on the ground that understood New Zealand’s culture, its market and could evangelise their product, motivate their channel and keep their brand alive and fresh in the market, Tse said.
New Zealand was only a small market, he said, but it could add 25 per cent to the revenues of an Australian business. It was also a good test bed for global expansion.
However, the Kiwi market was highly competitive, relying on local knowledge and contacts to help a firm stand out from the crowd.
This is where Voltage’s local IT industry experience came in.
“In New Zealand, contacts and relationships get you in the game, not whether you have the best technology or not,” Tse said.
“You get the best traction with things such as having personal contacts, knowing who is who in the market, and who the main players are.
“It’s the old adage of who you know, not what you know.”